China and SFU join forces

October 06, 2005, vol. 34, no. 3
By Marianne Meadhal

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SFU computing science students Cynthia Lee and Christopher Doege are settling into their first year of studies on campus, but they won't get too comfortable.

That's because the next two years of study will mean frequenting foreign lecture halls and computing labs across the globe in China.

They're part of a new dual degree program (DDP) beginning this fall that enables computing science students to earn degrees from both SFU and Zhejiang University in China. Cohorts of Canadian and Chinese students will spend the first year of the program at their home universities.

They will also undergo intensive language training in preparation for their future studies abroad. All students will have their next two years (second and third) of study at Zhejiang University and the final two years (fourth and fifth) at SFU.

For SFU students, the opportunity opens new career doors given China's emergence in the global economic market.

Doege says that while the program satisfies his technical interests, the chance to live abroad while completing his education is what really caught his attention. “I'm into this program for the opportunity to live and study in China,” says Doege, whose mother is from the Philippines and his father, from Germany. “It's an experience that not a lot of people get to have.

“I'm still having a hard time getting a grip on the fact that I could be leaving my life here behind for two years,” he adds. “It'll be tough but there will be so many opportunities open to me once this is completed.”

Fresh out of high school, Lee had originally planned to go to China and study Mandarin before applying for SFU's computing science program. “I had wanted to go because I've lost touch with my Chinese roots,” says Lee, who studied Mandarin in high school. Her family also speaks Cantonese at home. “Through the program I hope to achieve an understanding of Mandarin that goes beyond the speech and the writing, to an immersion in the Chinese culture itself.”

The program has drawn students from around the world, including Norway, the Philippines, and the U.S.

“This program gives students an opportunity to earn two degrees while gaining a unique global experience,” says Ze-Nian Li, DDP director. “The immersion in foreign cultures and their academic institutions in non-English speaking countries will enable a deeper understanding of languages, cultures, societies, and prepare students for the competitive global job market.”

The experience of living away from home will be a first for both Burnaby residents. “I'm expecting there will be a multitude of experiences,” adds Lee, “but overall, I will become a stronger person, realizing more success financially, as well as personally.”
Applications for the program along with more information can be found at, or email

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